The Best of The Show

A Classic Collection of Wit and Wisdom


By Bill Scheft

Foreword by Rick Reilly

Foreword by Bob Costas

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“The Show” is the second most widely-read column in Sports Illustrated, after Rick Reilly, who will write one of the book’s introductions. Sports Illustrated has over three million subscribers, the third highest magazine circulation in the United States, and is read by 23 million adults each week.

The Best Of “The Show” will appeal to fans of Rick Reilly’s Life of Reilly and Bill Geist’s Fore! Play, both of which were bestsellers. Scheft was the Emmy Award-nominated head monologue writer for David Letterman for 13 years and routinely appears on the air with him. He is a frequent guest on the talk show circuit and on sports radio programs all over the country.


New text copyright © 2005 by Bill Scheft

All previously published material copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004 by Sports Illustrated. All rights reserved.

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ISBN: 978-0-446-51091-2


July 29, 2002

ELS WEATHERS BRITISH Before the four-man, four-hole playoff began, Ernie huddled with his psychologist, Jos Vanstiphout. He was very supportive. I believe his exact words were, "Who do I look like, Harvey Penick? Just don't cough it up like you did against Retief Goosen and embarrass me!"

Jos Vanstiphout. That's the sound the membership board at Augusta makes when a woman approaches the clubhouse.

The tournament was full of surprises. Are you like me? Are you wondering if Tiger is suddenly using a Nike kryptonite-shafted putter?

Woods shot an 81 on Day 3, the worst 18 holes of his pro career. He played so badly that midway through the round, the Swedish nanny ducked into the scoring tent with Soren Hansen.

Brutal weather for Round 3. On the bright side the flowers on Duffy Waldorf's shirt and hat needed the rain.

Monty shot an 84 last Saturday. By the third hole he was reprimanded by course marshals for heckling himself.

ALLEN IVERSON AWAITS THE ANSWER The NBA All-Star was arrested on four felonies and 10 misdemeanors. None of the charges count as team fouls.

If convicted on all counts, Iverson faces a maximum of 65 years in jail. And his cousin gets two shots and the ball on the side.

Actually, it's 65 years, or 12 seasons with the Grizzlies.

Sixty-five years in prison. However, his lawyers are working out a deal to get it reduced to life in Reeboks.

The latest incident began when Allen allegedly threw his wife out of the house naked. That would make her the first member of the Iverson family left uncovered.

Iverson's no dummy. He's going to show up in court with Bennett Salvatore and Bernie Fryer to protect him.

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL CELEBRATES 16 STRAIGHT WEEKS WITHOUT A BOUNCED CHECK Despite reports to the contrary, Devil Rays managing general partner Vince Naimoli says his team is not desperate for cash. Of course, he said it while selling candy bars at the entrance to the Tampa Mall.

The balance of power in baseball is still lopsided. The Yankees placed Roger Clemens on the 15-day disabled list. Then, for insurance, they offered $6 million to the Blue Jays to acquire Roy Halladay's groin.

The Cardinals traded for veteran lefty Chuck Finley Not to be outdone, the Reds acquired the only person who can hit him— Tawny Kitaen.

The Indians are going through with a July 27 promotion in which they'll give out baseball cards of former Tribe's pitcher Bartolo Colon. And there are still seats available for Aug. 4 —Albert Belle Bobble-Hip Doll Night.

By the way, midnight July 31 is the insider trading deadline for Martha Stewart.

MARTINA HINGIS DATING SERGIO GARCIA She has only one complaint: He stands over her too long.

ROLAND LATINA, RAWLINGS'S "GLOVE DOCTOR," PASSES AWAY AT AGE 78 There is no truth to the rumor he was tied up with string, soaked in a bucket of water and buried under a 14-year-old's mattress.

My time is up. You've been great. Enjoy Blood, Sweat and Tears.


(Jos Vanstiphout…) This was the last thing I came up with for my first SI column. I love this formula, which Johnny Carson did for years as Carnac. My favorite: "The answer: Constantin Chernenko. The question: What is the sound a fat man makes sliding across a linoleum floor?"

(Allen Iverson Awaits the Answer…) Timing is everything. It was a huge break to get this story the first week. The details were odd, you had a hugely public figure and 99% of the charges were dropped. It raises the question: What phrase do you think Allen Iverson has heard more, "Nice shot," or "Do you mind if we ask you some questions?"

("Glove Doctor"…) I learned to write obituary jokes while working for Dave Letterman. The one I remember is about the guy who invented the multiplex movie theater. His funeral was at 11:00, 1:15, 3:30 and 6:00.


How about those course conditions at Muirfield? It rained so much Saturday, they had to dump out the Claret Jug three times. Remind me to fax this to Bob Hope if he's doing any gigs in heaven.

U.S. Post Office raises first-class stamp to 37 cents. Thanks a lot, Lance. Lance Armstrong was about to win his fourth straight Tour de France. He was sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service. But still and all, this is a stretch.


An explanation: I started doing this to end my columns at ESPN Magazine. It was kind of a salute to my years as a comic opening for bands and singers. That's how you'd get offstage: "My time is up. You've been great. Enjoy Jay and the Americans!" Just to be safe, for this first column, I went with a well-known group that evoked some sports-like images. That was the last time I did that. From now on, it'll mostly be residents of the "Where are they now?" file. I will include their one or two hits, just to jog your memories. If they had any more than two, you probably won't see them here.


August 5, 2002

MAJOR LEAGUE PLAYERS WEIGH STRIKE DATES They've narrowed it down to three possibilities: Aug. 16, Sept. 16 or Sept. 33.

So far, the most popular date seems to be Sept. 16. That way, the players would lose only one paycheck. Thank the Almighty. You don't want to see anyone suffer financially in all this.

The players' union is unified. Curt Schilling says he's willing to walk out on only two days' rest.

But there is hope. Last Thursday the two sides had a five-hour negotiating session. There was rhetoric, there was acrimony, there was name-calling—but they finally agreed on five selections for the bargaining-table cheese tray.

I'm starting to worry about Bud Selig. Yesterday he called a press conference to announce that if you buy the Expos before Sept. 1, he'll throw in free undercoating.

In other baseball news MLB is now sponsoring the Triumphant Glory Series, where participating teams take the field wearing jerseys from their most memorable era as voted by the fans. The Texas Rangers will appear naked.

TEDDY BALL-GATE CONTINUES Last week John Henry Williams produced a handwritten note from November 2000 signed by his father, who asked to be frozen when he died. And it must be authentic because there's absolutely nothing out there with a bogus Ted Williams signature.

You know, maybe Ted Williams did want to be frozen. Just to get the chance to one day tell Walt Disney he wasn't opening the hips enough on his swing.

FORMER NO. 2 PICK RYAN LEAF RETIRED AFTER FOUR SEASONS He plans to put football behind him and concentrate on alienating people in the business world.

And the 49ers announced they expect to consume 3,600 eggs during 26 days of camp—3,800 if Ron Stone wants an extra omelette.

LANCE ARMSTRONG WINS FOURTH STRAIGHT TOUR DE FRANCE Armstrong won by 7:17. His victory margin would have been greater if he hadn't gone off course three times to deliver newspapers.

Even after Lance retook the lead in stage 11, he was never a lock for the title. Thanks to changes in the format, stages 14 to 17 involved crepe-rolling.

Did you hear a French rider was kicked out of the Tour for holding on to a team car during a climb? What an idiot. All that training, all that dedication, and the guy doesn't think to just hide in the trunk?

ALLEN IVERSON GETS A LOOKAWAY PASS You knew this was coming a week ago Saturday, when Iverson played in his charity softball game. He had one at bat, and his attorneys worked out a walk.

Despite his problems with the law, Allen Iverson jerseys are still flying off the shelves. And they've even sold a couple.

FRENCH FIGURE SKATING JUDGE ACCEPTS THREE-YEAR SUSPENSION Terrific. She'll be back in time to screw up the next Olympics.

My time is up. You've been great. Enjoy Gino Vanelli.


(I'm starting to worry about Bud Selig…) First tip: Anytime, I mean, anytime you get the chance to do a joke about a former used car salesman, drop everything and do it.

(Lance Armstrong wins fourth straight…) Larry Jacobson, one of the great Letterman monologue writers ever, invented the quintessential Tour de France joke. Greg Lemond won his second straight Tour de France. Finishing second, once again, was a delivery guy from Empire Szechuan. When I say quintessential, I mean it. I think Dave has done it every year since. So, I went with newspapers.


New Cardinals pitcher Chuck Finley hasn't had a hit in 17 years. No, wait. I'm thinking of Michael Jackson. No, wait. I'm thinking of Gino Vanelli….

Armstrong is part of the U.S. Postal Service team. Which explains the sign on the back of his seat, "Next Window Please. " O.K., I tried a different tactic here. You have to do that. You have to keep trying different payoffs. You can't take rejection personally. Those bastards.…


"I Just Wanna Stop"


August 12, 2002

(Tap, tap) Is this thing on?

SALT LAKE MOB SCENE Forget what you've heard. At the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, Ice Fixing will not be a demonstration sport.

A reputed Russian mobster, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, was arrested for trying to fix the ice dancing event at the Salt Lake City Games. He would have gotten away with it if he hadn't been ratted out by his brother Fredo Tokhtakhounov.

But this mob guy is no dummy. He's already hired a very sharp lawyer, who advised him to plead "Not Gillooly"

Are you like me? Are you waiting for Sale and Pelletier to hold a press conference to announce that this is not about them?

HBO REALITY SERIES HARD KNOCKS LANDS IN DALLAS I feel so foolish. I thought HBO already had a show about the Cowboys: Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The Cowboys are ready for the cameras. For the last two months Brian Billick has been giving Dave Campo bluster lessons.

Lots of inside revelations on the show. For instance, I didn't know you had to report this, but the Cowboys placed OT Aaron Gibson on the Physically Unable to Have a Salad list.

Don't miss the second installment. Dave Campo shows up with his evil sidekick, Mini-Campo.

According to a poll, 28% of NFL fans say the Dallas Cowboys improved themselves the most during the off-season. The other 72% prefer Jerry Jones's original face.

Come on. Jerry Jones's private jet is on its second nose.

BASEBALL HEADED FOR FALL It still looks like Sept. 16 may be closing time for the union. Good move. Who wants to be playing the same night The King of Queens has its season premiere?

This would be the ninth work stoppage since 1972. Tenth if you count the Braves after Game 2 in the ' 96 World Series.

Bud Selig may be starting to crack. He's now threatening to contract the bratwurst from the sausage race at Miller Park.

Despite all the dire possibilities, attendance in Minnesota has jumped during the last few weeks. It's a combination of two factors: 1) the Twins' commanding lead in the AL Central; 2) a local classified ad describing the Metrodome as a "perfect fixer-upper for newlyweds."

Tell me if I'm wrong. With all the distracting talk about steroids and strikes, has there ever been a better time to cork your bat?

In other news, the Red Sox designated Jose Offerman for assignment. The assignment: Write 2,000 words on how to earn $26 million stranding runners and dropping throws.

Offerman was shocked. Never saw it coming. If you're scoring at home, that makes 289 signs he's missed.

Boston also released RHP Rich Garces. He had to turn sideways to clear waivers.

Unlike Offerman, Garces was a real gentleman. He offered to eat his contract.

JIM KELLY INVITES 1,200 FRIENDS AND EX-TEAMMATES TO HALL OF FAME INDUCTION And Scott Norwood made 75 bucks parking cars.

LAWYERS FOR FORMER NFL WR RAE CAR-RUTH APPEAL MURDER CONVICTION Remember, if the conviction is not overturned, Rae loses one of his timeouts in the yard.

My time is up. You've been great. Enjoy Pablo Cruise.


(Is this thing on?) The editors wanted me to start with some sort of introduction. I had done a thing at ESPN Magazine, "Good to be here. How about a hand for my spiritual adviser, Mark Pope?" but I didn't want to repeat that. Too shticky. So, I came up with this, which I figured I could use every week. It lasted a week, although I did bring it back a couple more times.

(… plead "Not Gillooly") Jeff Gillooly was Tonya Harding's fiancd orchestrated the 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan. When photos of them having sex were published years later in Penthouse, my friend, the get-out-of-the-business funny Larry Amoros, commented, "It's not the way you like to see our Olympians."

(According to a poll, 28% of NFL fans…)

(Come on. Jerry Jones's private jet is on its second nose…) You can never have enough plastic surgery jokes. It's completely fair game. Hell, Jimmy Johnson once referred to the Cowboys owner as "Michael Jackson, I mean, Jerry Jones."

(Boston also released RHP Rich Garces…) Sure, it's a fat joke, but it's more clever than gratuitous.

(Unlike Offerman, Garces was a real gentleman…) Now this, this is gratuitous.


Iverson works on his outside shot. All the serious charges were dropped. The judge must have been a big Iverson fan. His decision was delayed for two hours while the bailiff arranged his cornrows to spell "case dismissed. " The story may have been played out by then. Tip: Always have a bailiff help with your cornrows.

You've all heard of the Russian mob—the Vodka Nostra. This was a tag to the skating scandal run. I'm glad it was cut. It's a little forced. Sounds like something the girls drank on an episode of Sex and the City.


"Love Will Find a Way"


August 19, 2002

By applause, how many of you had Aug. 15 in your strike date office pool?

GILLETTE WINS NAMING RIGHTS TO PATRIOTS' NEW DIGS Too bad. For another $75 million it could have been Yankees Suck Stadium.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans still haven't decided what to do about the former Adelphia Coliseum. So far, the best they've come up with is Defraud Field.

Are you like me? Did you find John Madden's Monday Night Football debut disappointing? Come on. Three hours, not one reference to George Lazenby, Deke Slayton or Uriah Heep.

Big production changes this season on MNF. For the first time ever Hank Williams Jr. will be allowed to use the telestrator.

It's official. If Steve Spurrier adds another Gator, the Redskins will be eligible for federal Wetlands Protection funds.

MLB PLAYERS EASE UP ON STEROID RAGE Last week the union proposed that players be subject to mandatory testing. However, it must be a written test.

Actually, the MLBPA is in favor of unannounced testing. Unannounced testing. That's when a guy in a lab coat jumps out from behind your sofa with a specimen jar and yells, "Surprise!"

According to a recent phone poll, 41% said that in the event of a strike they would stop following baseball. The other 59% said, "Hey, how'd you get this number?"

The small-market owners are desperate for money. Before the plane took off on a recent road trip, the Royals had to chip in for gas.

This is shocking. Turns out the FBI knew about Reds G.M. Jim Bowden's mouth last winter and failed to act.

Speaking of diplomats, Texas Rangers reliever John Rocker issued a written apology after making antigay remarks in front of a Dallas restaurant. Hey, who said he'd never get his 1999 form back?

You know what's really sad? This latest episode occurred just when Rocker was starting to get people out with his new pitch: the ethnic slurve.

TONY STEWART FINED $10,000 BY NASCAR FOR PUNCHING PHOTOGRAPHER Not only that, he was ordered to take a course in Frank Sinatra Anger Management.

Stewart was also fined $50,000 and placed on probation for the rest of 2002 by The Home Depot. What does this mean? He can't come in with 500 feet of Sheetrock?

In other NASCAR news, Jeff Gordon filled in for Regis on Live with Regis and Kelly last week. Did you see him? Looks like they tried to do his hair and makeup in under 12 seconds.

NBC UNVEILS FALL SCHEDULE Pretty shrewd. Sunday afternoon, it's a brand-new three-hour drama, Law and Order: Special Teams Unit.

DIKEMBE MUTOMBO TRADED TO NETS Strange way the trade was announced. Allen Iverson allegedly kicked in Keith Van Horn's door with a contract in his waistband.

My time is up. You've been great. Enjoy Boz Scaggs.


(It's official. If Steve Spurrier adds another Gator, the Redskins will be eligible…) You know what makes this joke work? Back then, there still were Federal Wetlands Protection funds.

(Actually, the MLBPA is in favor of unannounced testing…) Sometimes, you have to repeat the setup to get the audience focused on the payoff. This is such a case. It is also, I believe, my first recorded use of the phrase "specimen jar." There'll be more. A lot more.


The Tennessee Titans still haven't decided what to do about renaming the former Adelphia Coliseum. So far, the best they've come up with is "Happy First Communion, Earlene" Coliseum. Earlene was the name of the least-known Mandrell sister.

Dikembe Mutombo traded to Nets. Don't kid yourself. This is a huge upgrade for Jayson Williams's defense. It was too early in that case. Comedy tip: With murder, you have to wait until the charges are filed. Any other felony, go nuts.


"Lido Shuffle"

"Harbor Lights"


"We're All Alone"

(Much too successful, but I waived the rule here because of his name, Boz Scaggs, and the fact he's been forgotten as if he had one hit.)


August 26, 2002

Thank you. This is great. I feel like Don Fehr on Fan Appreciation Night.

UGH-UST 30 The players are being a little cute. They say that because baseball is a monopoly, the luxury tax should be $75. And you have to pay only if you land on it.

President Bush has ordered both sides to keep working. Coming from a guy who's in the middle of a one-month vacation while the economy is in turmoil, this really means a lot.

The players and owners are still about $90 million apart. No problem. Jerry Lewis can raise that Labor Day weekend.

Are you like me? Are you wondering if they'll bring in the QuesTec umpiring machine to decide if the strike is legitimate?

Fred Wilpon is now the sole owner of the New York Mets. It was an amicable separation. Nelson Doubleday got $135 million and custody of John Franco's elbow.

The Mets announced their 40th-anniver-sary alltime team. The fans selected Darryl Strawberry twice: rightfield and lefthanded felon.

Meanwhile, Yankee Alfonso Soriano became the first 30-30 second baseman. My question: Does that include the five homers and 10 steals he had for the Harlem Little League team?

SAINTS TRAINING CAMP BEING SPRAYED DAILY FOR WEST NILE MOSQUITOES That's funny. I thought the league moved those mosquitoes to the NFC South Nile.

The Saints have shifted Kyle Turley from right tackle to left tackle. Big adjustment. He's spent the last three weeks working on using his left arm to throw opposing players' helmets.

Not only that, he now has to protect his blind-side tattoos.

New Packers wide receiver Terry Glenn has already suffered two injuries during training camp. And today the late Vince Lombardi called him "she."

Don't miss this week's installment of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Dallas Cowboys. Former lineman Nate Newton is arrested for possession of the Cowboys' dime package.

Republican congressman and former Oklahoma quarterback J.C Watts pulled a hamstring running sprints at the Redskins' camp. Actually, he hurt himself trying to go to the left.

Watts was carted off the field. And he fell to No. 5 on Steve Spurrier's quarterback depth chart, behind John Reaves and Norm Snead.

BEEM-ING UP AT THE PGA Amazing story. Seven years ago Beem quit the Tour to sell cellular phones and car stereos. This happens a lot. I was just talking about that with my marriage counselor, Freddie Couples.

Fred Funk finished tied for fourth, which gives him a 10-year exemption to all George Clinton concerts.

During Saturday's third round, winds gusted up to 40 mph. On the bright side, it was a nice change to hear the term blustery used to describe something other than Gary McCord.

CBS COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORTER JILL ARRINGTON POSES IN SEPTEMBER ISSUE OF FHMDon't get excited, she's not completely naked. Help me out here. Technically, is that a Cover 2?

SHAQUILLE O' NEAL TO COSTAR IN WEEKLY DRAMA ON CBS I hope I'm not too late with a title: Touched by a Brick.

My time is up. You've been great. Enjoy the Little River Band.


(President Bush has ordered both sides…) This joke got picked up by a lot of local papers. And I heard Bush was so upset, he took another two weeks off

(Fred Funk finished tied for fourth…) I love this joke as I love few things. George Clinton was the founder of the band Parliament-Funkadelic.


The Harlem Little League team was cleared of allegations its players came from outside the legal district. The charges proved to be totally bogus. According to Little League rules, as long as your ex-wife and kids still live in the area, you're O.K. On the heels of the Danny Almonte age scandal, this was a strong joke. But that scandal was two years old. Big heels. Christina Aguilera big heels.

(re: Jill Arrington ) Pretty racy pictorial. In one shot, she's wearing nothing but Tim Brando's makeup bib. The "cover-2" line that made it into the column is better and should stand alone, as it did, but I wanted you to see how hard I was working on this.


"Lonesome Loser"

"Man on Your Mind"


September 2, 2002

(Taptaptap) Is this thing on?

(Taptaptap) Is this season still on?

HELP ME OUT HERE What do you think the chances are we'll ever see a Rob Manfred Bobblehead Night?

I don't want to complain about the pace of the negotiations, but Steve Trachsel works faster.

Alex Rodriguez offered to give up 30% to 40% of his $252 million salary if it would help move things along. And I'm not sure about the connection, but a half hour after he said that, Anna Nicole Smith had her wedding dress let out.

And San Diego Padres owner John Moores said he was willing to shut down the Padres for the rest of this year and all of next season. Well, sure—0-0 is the closest they'll get to finishing .500.

Despite a leaguewide drop in attendance, the Yankees last week were on pace to attract 3.6 million fans. Do you realize what this would mean if there was real revenue sharing? Yeah, I don't care, either.

Former replacement player Shane Spencer was allowed to meet with some union players. And everyone in the union agrees: He makes a dynamite gin and tonic.

Meanwhile, the man who caught Barry Bonds's 600th home run says he won't share proceeds from the sale with his friends. He said, "You can't find a person that deserves it more than me." No, wait. I'm sorry. That's what Barry said.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON BEGINS— FINALLY! I don't know about you, but I can't wait until it all culminates in the Rose Bowl on Memorial Day.

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden has come under fire for having the Seminoles use "Let's Roll" as their rallying cry. Wait a minute. I thought "Let's Roll" was the rallying cry of Nate Newton.

SERENA WILLIAMS SEEDED FIRST AT U.S. OPEN She was seeded second, but she brought a note from her father.

On the men's side, you have to feel bad for Pete Sampras. He didn't even make Bridgette Wilson's top 16.

They're really beefing up security for this year's Open. In fact, it could take another five days before they stop patting down Anna Kournikova.

PATRIOTS OWNER ROBERT KRAFT UNDERGOES SUCCESSFUL BYPASS SURGERY Very serious. Doctors went in and found his arteries blocked by Damien Woody. In other NFL news Drew Brees has beaten out Doug Flutie for the starting QB job in San Diego. Quick impression. Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer talking to G.M. John Butler:

"You tell him."

"No, you tell him."

"No, you tell him."

"Hey, not me. I got a family. You tell him.…"

Former Colts linebacker Jeff Herrod remains in an Indiana jail awaiting extradition to Nevada on charges he passed $75,000 in bad checks. I'm confused. I thought you weren't allowed to hold a defensive player.



On Sale
Sep 3, 2007
Page Count
256 pages

Bill Scheft

About the Author

Scheft was the Emmy® Award-nominated head monologue writer for David Letterman for 13 years and routinely appears on the air with him. He is a frequent guest on the talk show circuit and on sports radio programs all over the country.

Learn more about this author